WASHINGTON –The nation’s ambassadors are gathering for a face-to-face meeting, the first of its kind in U.S. diplomatic history.
With the exception of U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey, who could not attend because of the unfolding crisis in that country, the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference brought together all of the diplomats under one roof to talk about ways to better collaborate. The ambassadors will be in Washington until Friday.
Convened by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the conference will primarily discuss Clinton’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.
The review, largely inspired by the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which “set forth assessment and commitments that kind of guided the legislative and the appropriations process,” calls for a consolidated global mission, Clinton said. It also highlights the power of civilians who “not only practice diplomacy and carry out development projects, but who act to prevent and respond to crisis and conflict,” she said.
Clinton opened the conference on Wednesday with remarks to the ambassadors, encouraging cooperation and collaboration.
“I saw the state and USAID making different arguments. Fighting over scarcer resources. Not coming up with the kind of organizing blueprint that would move people into a decision process that would benefit our immediate and long-term goals,” Clinton said.
Following President Barack Obama’s call for cleaner and leaner government during his State of the Union address, Clinton motioned towards the elimination of duplicate reports and cumbersome paperwork.
“No report or memo should be longer than two pages,” Clinton said. Attendees responded with loud applause.
Clinton also touched on the need to innovate, asking ambassadors to seize the “opportunity and responsibility to re-think and re-imagine strategy.”
“We are all in uncharted territory that requires us to be more nimble, more innovative and more accountable than ever before,” Clinton said.
Acknowledging the power of diplomacy in preventing crisis, the secretary ultimately called for decisive action: “It is time to build on that progress and deliver results.”
Mullen speaks at lunch
Ambassadors attended a lunch with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen.
Both Clinton and Mullen joked about the amount of time the two departments have spent together, indicating the increasing collaboration between military officials and policy makers.
“It’s fortunate to literally watch two masters: Secretaries Clinton and [Robert] Gates together. Many of you have grown up in this business when the secretary of state and the Secretary of defense didn’t necessarily have each other over for dinner very often,” Mullen said. His joke was immediately followed by hearty laughter from the more than 150 ambassadors and military officials in attendance.
“In this world we’re living in right now we can not live without the kind of relationship we have between these two secretaries,” Mullen said.
He touted the revolutions in Egypt as a prime example of the relationship between civilian lead and military support.
“It hasn’t just been $1.3 billion investment in Egypt over the last few years. And it hasn’t just been a military investment in their armed services. It has been an investment on the part of the United States,” Mullen said.
After the speech, Mullen took questions from ambassadors in a session the press was not allowed to attend.